By Sandra Palmer,2014-08-21 00:13
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Instructor: Norm Weinstein

Contact:, phone: 433-1294

Course focus:

“To read Canadian literature attentively is to realize how diverse Canadian culture

    is . . .

    --W.H. New

    “Thirty years ago Northrop Frye argued that Canadian literature is notoriously preoccupied with the question “Where is here?” No matter what they sit down to write about, our writers invariably end up writing about the kind of place they think Canada is, was, or ought to be. And by describing it, they imagine it into being for the rest of us.”

    --Daniel Francis

    This course is an initial survey through a remarkable body of Canadian literature, a literature that has particularly attracted acclaim from readers internationally during the past half century. Reflecting on the enormous cultural diversity of the second largest nation on earth, we will focus largely upon literature created by Canada’s aboriginal population, identified as “Native Canadians” or “First Peoples,” by writers with ties to the English literary tradition, and Francophone writers available in English translation. In doing so, we will consider both how Canadian literature reflects a sense of Canadian identity, and how this literature delightfully resonates with other literary traditions worldwide. We will look for characteristic themes, patterns of literary experimentation, and continuities with traditional literary works older than the nation-state of Canada. You will be fortunate in having a Canadian poet and critic, Fred Wah, and a translator of French-Canadian literature, BSU Professor Will Browning, visit our class to share their work. Examples of Canadian art and music will be introduced so that a sense of how Canadian arts intersect and enhance one another can be appreciated. I hope you will share my enthusiasm for this unique literature, and that this course will inspire your own future reading in this field.

Course supplies:

Required texts:

    Daniel Francis, Editor, Imagining Ourselves: Classics of Canadian Non-Fiction

    Daniel David Moses and Terry Goldie, Editors, An Anthology of Canadian Native

    Literature in English, Second Edition

    Donna Bennett and Russell Brown, Editors, A New Anthology of Canadian Literature

    in English

    Richard Teleky, Editor, The Oxford Book of French-Canadian Short Stories


Course requirements:

    Regular attendance and participation in class discussions are required and contribute to 25% of your final grade. More than a few absences could contribute to your failing the course. Three papers on topics explained below will contribute to the remaining 75% of your grade. The two brief papers will each contribute to 20%; the longer final paper will count for 35% of your final grade.


8/26 An introduction to ourselves and the field of study.

8/28 Read the introductions to each of your four texts.

    9/2 Traditional Native Singers and Storytellers, Duke Redbird, and Margaret Atwood. Moses and Goldie, pp. 1-13 and 120-128. Francis, pp. 231-241.

    9/4 Samuel Hearne and Vilhjalmur Stefanson. Francis, pp. 22-29 and 86-96.

9/9 Grey Owl and Emily Carr. Francis, pp. 97-105 and 106-113.

    9/11 Mary Augusta Tappage and Simon Arnaviapik. Moses and Goldie, pp. 39-42 and 80-91.

    9/16 Catharine Parr Trail and William Francis Butler. Francis, pp. 37-42 and 60-63.

    9/18 Ron Geyshick and Jeannette C. Armstrong. Moses and Goldie, pp. 198-202 and 226-242.

    9/23 Margo Kane and Marilyn Dumont. Moses and Goldie, pp. 326-340 and 385-392.

    9/25 Thomas King and Paul Sessequasis. Moses and Goldie, pp. 203-210 and 411-416.

    9/30 Susanna Moodie and Margaret Atwood. Bennett and Brown, pp. 93-122 and 783-787. First paper is due. Write a four-page paper about any author in either the Francis or Moses and Goldie anthology that captures your interest who is NOT assigned. Interpret that author’s work in light of how the writing clarifies for you what it means to be Canadian. Cite at least two specific passages from your author’s work to illuminate the Canadian identity issue.

    10/2 Charles G.D. Roberts and Stephen Leacock. Bennett and Brown, pp. 144-153 and 224-237.

    10/7 Joy Kogawa and Fred Wah. Bennett and Brown, pp. 731-741 and 828-842.


    10/9 Fred Wah will be visiting our class to discuss his writing with us. He will be reading in the evening at the Log Cabin Literary Center. Attendance at both events is required.

10/14 E.J. Pratt and Michael Ondaatje (selection from In the Skin of the Lion).

    Bennett and Brown, pp. 286-313 and 899-912.

    10/16 Robert Kroetsch and bp nichol. Bennett and Brown, pp. 618-633 and 918-935.

    10/21 Leonard Cohen and Michael Ondaatje. Bennett and Brown, pp. 696-710 and 888-898. Francis, pp. 304-311.

    10/23 Alice Monroe and Carol Shields. Bennett and Brown, pp. 660-669 and 742-756.

    10/28 Adele Wiseman and Rohinton Mistry. Bennett and Brown, pp. 634-643 and 1072-1089.

    10/30 Daphne Marlatt and Dionne Brand. Bennett and Brown, pp. 873-885 and 1089-1104. The second paper is due. Write a four- page paper discussing any author (assigned or unassigned, but in one of your required texts) deeply focused upon his or her ancestral roots outside Canada. Offer an interpretation, quoting at least two specific passages from your author’s work, that reveals how the writer’s style (language use, types of images and metaphors, mix of poetry and prose) reflects a tension between their ancestral homeland and their present Canadian home.

    11/4 Louis Frechette and Louis Dantin. Teleky, pp. 24-34 and 35-44.

    11/6 Gabrielle Roy and Claire Martin. Teleky, pp. 88-102 and 103-108.

    11/11 Dr. Will Browning, Associate Professor of French at BSU and translator of two novels by the Quebec writer Rejean Ducharme, will speak of his experiences translating Ducharme’s complex works.

    11/13 Yves Theriault and Anne Hebert. Teleky, pp. 109-114 and 115-151.

    11/18 Roger Lemelin and Jacques Ferron. Teleky, pp. 152-166 and 180-196.

    11/20 Naim Kattan and Claude Jasmin. Teleky, pp. 197-203 and 225-233.

    11/24 Antonine Maillet and Roch Carrier. Teleky, pp. 219-224 and 234-241.

    12/2 Marie-Claire Blais and Michel Tremblay. Teleky, pp. 242-253 and 254-260.


12/4 Course review

12/9 Course review continued.

    12/11 Final Paper due. Write a ten - page paper explaining in detail how you would organize a literary tour for a group of four non-Canadians. The four individuals you are organizing a literary tour for include a naturalist involved with environmental activism, a Native American anthropologist interested in deepening ties between Native Americans and Native Canadians, an American teenage girl who wants to become a French teacher, and an elderly gentleman whose father tried and failed to homestead in Saskatchewan. Provide a map that shows your itinerary. Assign this group at least eight authors included in your textbooks and link the writers to the places you intend to visit. Utilize what you have learned through our class discussions and readings. Cite at least one specific passage from each of the eight authors that helps explain why you included them to meet the needs of your tour group. Use MLA documentation for all sources cited.


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